On Jesse Jackson Jr. and Being Bipolar

It's no excuse for what he did, says the author. She should know -- she lives with the disease, too.

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I'm sure at the time it made sense.

A $43,350 Rolex watch here. Some Michael Jackson memorabilia worth thousands there. A $4,000 cruise; $60,000 dropped on restaurants and nightclubs; and more than $7,000 for two taxidermied elk heads.

But someone was bound to notice. A congressman's annual salary of $174,000 can get you to the upper-middle-class range only if you don't have bothersome things like "a spouse," "personal debt" and "kids." Blowing more than $100,000 on a Rolex and restaurants goes beyond living above your means. Jackson Jr. and his wife were living in someone else's means, someone for whom money wasn't an object. Maybe Chicago rapper Kanye West's means, although Kanye can probably purchase quite a few Rolexes before it becomes financially debilitating.

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Maybe they were trying to keep up with the Obamas? But more than likely, they were trying to keep up with an appearance, both real and imagined.

The Jackson name is a famous name, associated with civil rights and public service, but it's not a name like "Kennedy" or "Bush" that comes with a compound and generations of family wealth. But Jackson was now in the world of those sorts of people, being the son of a former Democratic presidential contender and Martin Luther King Jr. confidant. He had to mingle, network and move in the same circles.

Now, some are able to keep themselves rooted once they step foot in Washington, D.C.'s mecca for the well-dressed, power-mad nerd. Others rent their houses, put all their money on their backs, threaten whom they have to for inaugural-ball tickets and live in fear of their cars being repossessed.

Still, for those who typically showboat their way into the poorhouse in Washington, they got there honestly. They took out loans and blew through credit cards thinking they could pay it all back if it led to a political windfall down the line. Jackson Jr. chose a different route -- outright fraud -- and deluded himself into thinking it wouldn't come back to get him. He sustained this delusion even though he had the same target affixed to his back as every political scion of a civil rights legacy who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

I'm sure what hurts the most is that he knew better and did it anyway.

Being Bipolar